Close to 200 lawmakers have filed suit alleging that President Donald Trump is violating what is called the emoluments clause of the US Constitution. The suit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia early on Wednesday, June 14.
The plaintiffs argue that they have standing to sue the President since the clause states that only Congress has the ability to approve payments and gifts the president receives.
“The framers gave Congress a unique role, a unique right and responsibility,” said Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut one of the organizers of the lawsuit.
Before taking office Trump bequeathed control of his assets to his two grown sons and a senior executive, but he did not divest from his holdings in any way. Therefore, there is a real possibility that he will gain financial benefit from the profits of the Trump Organization, and that will include foreign governments.
This third such suit also states that no one can discover the full extent to which the Trump Organization benefits from these payments since the president has never released his tax returns.
The first of the two previous lawsuits over the emoluments clause was only a few days after Trump’s inauguration in January; filed by a liberal-funded government watchdog group. Two co-plaintiffs joined the suit later; a restaurant group and two individuals in the hotel industry. The second suit was filed earlier this week by two Democratic lawyers with a similar claim.
The Justice Department and Trump stated that these are baseless lawsuits: the clause does not include normal business transactions such as hotel payments or real estate deals.
Michigan Democratic Representative John Conyers said that together with Blumenthal they organized “greatest number of congressional plaintiffs on any lawsuit against a president.” He added that they’re taking the action “not out of any sense of pleasure or partisanship but because President Trump has left us with no other option.”